x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Pakistan cricketer Zulqarnain seeks asylum in Britain

Pakistan wicketkeeper Zulqarnain Haider plans to seek political asylum in Britain after fleeing the team amid alleged threats for defying a match-fixing conspiracy.

The wicketkeeper Zulqarnain Haider arrives at Heathrow airport. He plans to seek political asylum after fleeing Dubai amid alleged threats for defying a match-fixing conspiracy.
The wicketkeeper Zulqarnain Haider arrives at Heathrow airport. He plans to seek political asylum after fleeing Dubai amid alleged threats for defying a match-fixing conspiracy.

LONDON // Pakistan wicketkeeper Zulqarnain Haider plans to seek political asylum in Britain after fleeing the team amid alleged threats for defying a match-fixing conspiracy.

Zulqarnain arrived in London yesterday and in an interview broadcast by Pakistan's Geo television network today said he had discussed his status with immigration officials and "according to their rules, I will have to follow this procedure."

"I understand there is rule in Britain that if you are on right and if you are not a criminal, then they always protect you," Zulqarnain said.

Zulqarnain would not identify who threatened him or the nature of the threats that prompted him to flee the team hotel in Dubai and fly out to England without telling anyone.

"I was approached by one person who asked me to fix the fourth and fifth match and there would be problem for me if I did not do it," Zulqarnain said.

"I do not want to say who is involved and who is not involved in the match fixing."

The alleged threats came after he scored the winning run in the fourth one-day international against South Africa on Friday to clinch a one-wicket victory for Pakistan, thereby foiling an alleged plan to allow South Africa to win the game.

"The country is like a mother and any one who sells it cannot get anything in life," Zulqarnain said.

"I did not want to sell my mother, I did not want to sell my country and I did what I thought was better."

Following the game, Zulqarnain asked a Pakistan Cricket Board official for his passport, pretending that he needed it to buy a mobile phone connection, and then left the hotel to fly to London.

"I did not do what I was asked to do in the fourth one-dayer and I also did not let it happen what was being asked to do, so this is the reason that I left it and came here and I did what I felt better," he said.

Zulqarnain would not detail the threats made to him, but Pakistan police had beefed up security at his house in Lahore, according to senior police official Sahahzada Salim, "to avoid any untoward incident."

"I cannot say what kind of threats I have received as my family is still in Pakistan," Zulqarnain said, adding his reluctance to provide details was in the interests of family safety.

Zulqarnain said he was new in Pakistan cricket and did not have enough money to hire a lawyer to represent him in the immigration case or any future legal disputes. He said he would approach some of his friends in London as he seeks a place to stay.

The alleged threats and match fixing were the latest setback for a Pakistan team that has been troubled by matters off the pitch.

In August, Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif were accused of involvement in an alleged betting scandal during a test in England.

The ICC described the allegations against the trio as the sport's biggest fixing scandal in decades. It charged the trio with corruption in September and suspended them after a British tabloid sting alleged money was paid for bowling no-balls at prearranged times against England to fix spot-betting markets.

On Sunday, Pakistan's team manager Intikhab Alam said Zulqarnain and two other players had been fined for breaking curfew during the team's series with South Africa.

Alam said opener Shahzaib Hasan, spinner Abdul Rehman and Zulqarnain were fined Dh500 for staying out late in Abu Dhabi, where the series began last month. Alam had said on Sunday that all three would be available to play on Monday.